Myth: People who live childfree are selfish.
Busted!: Choosing not to have children is no more or less selfish than choosing to have children. Describing a childfree person as being selfish is a subjective value judgment that does not consider the various other meaningful contributions childfree people make to the world.
The reasons for which children are brought into this world vary and some can be very selfish. Aspiring parents could conceivably be making an equally or more selfish a decision if their purpose is the expectation that their children will look after them as they grow older, or are trying to save a relationship already in trouble. At the heart of the decision to bring a child into the world often lies the parents’ own desires, to enjoy the experience of child-rearing.
Living a childfree lifestyle is choosing to be for one’s self, rather than being selfish. It is being honest with the realities of the reason the decision was presented in the first place and understanding that the value of one’s self is not defined by the role of being a parent, but by the quality of the role played by being a human being.
I’d never heard of National Infertility Awareness Week before receiving a tip from a reader that I should check out their Myths About Childfree Living. It’s worth a touch-and-go — if for no other reason than it’s intriguing creation and dissemination by the The National Infertility Association — but I think the most compelling “busted childfree myth” is the one I’ve quoted above. It touches on two issues that invariably arise in “Why no kids?” conversations, selfishness and choice. The post revisits the latter and several other childfree myths:
- Living child free is a choice, and they never wanted children.
- People who live child free have empty lives.
- People who live childfree have carefree lives.
- A higher-power is telling you that you should not be a parent.
Obviously some couple living childfree lives actually wanted to (perhaps tried to) have children and were unable to for one reason or another. For them, living childfree is not not a choice. But for many of us it is. A profoundly important (and often difficult) choice. It’s a choice we continue to make again and again. And it isn’t always a choice that hinges upon having never wanted children. Few people are so simple. Human psychology is complex and fluid; wants ebb and flow. But the ongoing choice not to have children endures for some couples despite whims, curiosities, fashions, fears, desires, etc. It is these couples who’s stories particularly intrigue me. I hope that we will continue to hear more in the weeks and months ahead.
As for the final three childfree myths, they all strike me as a bit light and goofy, but they’ll be revisited in due course. Although, fair warning, the “higher-power” crutch is a personal peeve. So, with all due respect, I’ll encourage someone else to ponder the almighty will scenarios!